“I have appreciated the tireless work that he has put in over the past five years, keeping UI among the nation’s top public universities,” Richards said.
Harreld’s looming departure will add to a leadership drain on campus. His provost stepped down over the summer after only a year on the job, and the school in July abruptly replaced the dean of its largest college. Their replacements are serving in interim capacities.
Harreld has faced criticism for bringing students back to campus in August without testing them for the virus, which quickly spread after they packed into campus bars in the first weeks.
Nearly 2,000 students have reported coronavirus infections to the university since then. Gov. Kim Reynolds has since closed the bars temporarily, and the outbreak has subsided.
Harreld’s 2015 selection, orchestrated by Republican appointees on the regents, drew criticism from faculty, who had overwhelmingly backed other finalists who had more experience.
The former IBM executive eventually won over some critics, who say the mission changes and privatization they feared under Harreld did not fully come to pass.
Harreld succeeded in implementing a plan earlier this year to turn over the school’s utility system to for-profit operators in exchange for a $1.1 billion upfront payment, which has been invested in an endowment for future campus funding.